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Letters to the Editor

The Baltimore Sun

Zoning, permits well-administered

The letter to the editor from Del. Donald H. Dwyer Jr. (Sept. 9) is, unfortunately, both inaccurate and misleading. Your readers should understand that Anne Arundel County, acting pursuant to state and local law, is vigorously protecting our environment and preserving our green spaces and forests. We do this through enforcement of zoning and permit laws as well as laws requiring reforestation and mitigation in cases where land is cleared and graded.

Our department receives over 4,000 complaints a year from citizens, homeowners' associations, environmental groups and others of violations of the building, environmental and zoning laws in this county. These citizens reporting potential violations justifiably expect us to swiftly act to prevent degradation of our land and water.

Del. Dwyer's district contains significant acreage within our Chesapeake Bay Critical Areas. I am sure his constituents want their homes and land protected from pollution and spoilage from illegal construction and buildings.

County Executive John R. Leopold issued an executive order in his first days in office that adopted a zero-tolerance policy for critical area violations. Mr. Leopold has made it abundantly clear that we take these violations very seriously. We will enforce the Critical Area protection laws as well as those laws covering the remainder of the county.

When property owners have either intentionally or unintentionally worked beyond the scope of their permit, or performed work on their property without having the appropriate permits in hand, it is our duty to immediately stop the work that is taking place and require appropriate corrective action. If property owners are unaware of a particular zoning law that they have violated, we are very careful to be sure they become aware of the violation and work closely with them to correct the problem. It is only when all avenues of cooperation have been exhausted that we refer these cases to the Office of Law for legal action. It is not something we take lightly, and we would prefer to work with the citizens of the county rather than take them to court.

It is our obligation to see that all of the citizens of Anne Arundel County are afforded the ability to peacefully enjoy the use of their property. However, when someone crosses the line of the law, it is also our duty to see that appropriate corrective action is taken.

Elizabeth L. Dixon Annapolis

The writer is the director of the Anne Arundel County Department of Inspections and Permits.

County's AP gains are impressive

Thank you for your story ("More taking the AP tests," Sept. 9) highlighting the gains our school system has made with regard to the number of students taking Advanced Placement exams in the last year.

We have put a significant emphasis on boosting enrollment in our AP courses as well as increasing participation on the AP exams, in which students who score a 3 or higher (the exams are scored on a scale of 1 to 5) can earn college credit.

While your story covered the 22 percent increase in the number of students taking AP exams in the 2006-2007 school year compared to the year before, its focus on the small percentage point drop in the number of students who scored 3 or higher on the exam overshadowed several other key points.

First, the jump in the number of students taking the exams was accompanied by a 28 percent increase in the number of exams taken. Second, 739 more exams received a score of 3 or higher in 2006-2007, meaning hundreds more students will receive college credit as a result of last year's exams compared to the year before.

Keep in mind that the AP exams are not developed by Anne Arundel County Public Schools. They are administered by the College Board and are universal. Thus, county students can match their scores to students across the country.

That the large increase in participation is accompanied by a small dip in the percentage of exams receiving scores of 3 or higher is not surprising. What is important is that we are, as Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County President Tim Mennuti said in your story, encouraging students to push themselves and "take risks" to achieve academically.

I firmly believe our participation rates will continue to rise and, next year, I believe our scores will as well.

Kevin M. Maxwell

The writer is superintendent of Anne Arundel County public schools .

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